Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clausewitz, Machiavelli, Henry VIII, accidents of fate, etcetera

The Economist has a new blog called Clausewitz which will cover 'defence, security, and diplomacy,' ranging from "the technical details of new weapons to spy spats and diplomatic negotiations." According to the inaugural post, various names for the blog were considered; Dreadnought was rejected as "too British" and Machiavelli as "not military enough."

Fair enough, I suppose; but Machiavelli did write The Art of War (which I haven't read), and in chapter 14 of The Prince he says that a prince "should always be out hunting," toughening up his body and learning "how mountains rise, how valleys open up, how plains lie," and so forth (The Prince, H. Mansfield trans., 2nd ed., U. of Chicago Pr., p.59). In her novel Wolf Hall, which I've been slowly working my way through and haven't quite finished, Hilary Mantel puts similar words into the mouth of Henry VIII, who tells Thomas Cromwell "we usually say, we gentlemen, that the chase prepares us for war" (pbk. ed., p.167).

It would have been something of a drag to have been born in the sixteenth century. None of the available life courses, with the possible exception of humanist scholar (open only to men of a certain class and temperament, of course), would have been particularly appealing.

Afterthought: It would have been a drag to have been born in many parts of the world in any century, including the twenty-first. People born in relatively prosperous, relatively peaceful societies benefit from an accident of fate, and those born in poorer, more troubled societies suffer from an equally accidental occurrence. See here.


hank_F_M said...


I will have to watch this blog. But that title sets an very high high standard for themselves.

LFC said...

Here's the deal -- you watch it and tell me if they ever say anything interesting. That way I won't have to watch it myself.
Just kidding. :)